Club History - Part 5 - 2007-to-2009

On May 19th 2007, Gary Waddock was appointed as the fifth manager of Aldershot Town Football Club, arriving at the Rec with a wealth of experience making over 500 senior appearances, 21 international caps for the Republic of Ireland and managerial knowledge at youth, reserve and first team at Queen’s Park Rangers.

Waddock Leads Shots To Football League

The 45-year-old, who was raised in North West London, appointed Martin Kuhl as his first team coach. Difficult decisions were made in the summer of 2007 including the departure of popular defender Darren Barnard after an extensive professional career. However, the new boss set the tone for a younger, fitter squad blessed with pace.

After high expectations the previous season, Shots supporters had lowered their hopes with stability more the target, but boss Waddock set about his task with a calm, concentrated approach and it paid dividends. After defeating Kidderminster Harriers on the opening day of the season, his side never looked back. From October onwards, they were top of the Blue Square Premier and were never overtaken.

A nine-match successive victory sequence starting in mid-November saw boss Waddock's young squad force themselves away from the chasing pack including a double over neighbours Woking during the Christmas period. The Boxing Day victory at Kingfield was overshadowed as supporters’ club chairman and director Paul Muddell passed away after being taken ill directly after the match.

Realisation set in to the Shots supporters that a return of League football to the town was a possibility occurred in early March at second-placed Torquay United. Scott Davies' winning goal deep into injury time was celebrated profusely and it gave a genuine belief that the championship and "ultimate dream" was within reach.

Increased attendances, fanatical away support and the club was truly buzzing. Promotion was confirmed at Exeter City with four matches remaining as Scott Donnelly's equaliser secured the point required and set the packed Shots following at St James' Park off into a crescendo of emotion and jubilation. Aldershot had returned to the Football League, 16 years after having to start again.

The celebrations commenced in earnest at the final home match of the campaign against Weymouth. Just under 6,000 spectators attended as captain Rhys Day received the Blue Square Premier trophy after the match.

The club also invited the 1992-93 squad back as official guests of the evening along with key personnel who played their part in the formation of the club. They were introduced to the crowd at half-time amidst more emotional scenes. The presentation concluded with former Clapton chairman Mike Fogg opening the decanter of rum that he presented to the club in that opening fixture in August 1992. At the time, he said that the rum could only be opened when the town of Aldershot was back in the Football League. The time had come.

The season was full of other achievements, too: The League Cup (Setanta Shield) was secured amidst a tremendous final against Rushden and Diamonds. 3,714 spectators saw a 3-3 draw and the Shots winning on penalties. Boss Waddock was awarded the Blue Square Premier “Manager of the Season” and dedicated it to Martin Kuhl and his players; Kirk Hudson was awarded "Young Player of the Season"; Nikki Bull won “Conference Player of the Season” and Davies' goal at Torquay United received the "Goal of the Season” award. In addition, goalkeeper Bull was also voted both supporters’ and players’ “Player of the Season”.

A truly special season, indeed.

The summer of 2008 saw a number of additions alongside the departure of exciting youngster Joel Grant, who became the club’s record sale in June - Crewe Alexandra paid £130,000 for his services.

The return of the name of Aldershot to the Football League came on Saturday August 9th 2008, ironically at Accrington Stanley. A Scott Donnelly goal ensured an emotional day concluded with three points. A tremendous opening to the campaign saw victories secured against established Football League sides including Bradford City, Gillingham and Wycombe Wanderers. The second half of the season was tougher, but a respectable final placing of 15th was the highest from a Conference-winning team for five seasons. Goalkeeper Nikki Bull completed 300 appearances for the club. However, the end of the campaign saw boss Waddock forced to reduce his playing budget for the 2009-10 season. In doing so, it ensured the departure of senior players including club captain Rhys Day and the vastly experienced Ricky Newman, who combined playing with the role of reserve team coach.

Picture Gallery

Gary Waddock holds the Blue Square Premier trophy aloft
We're nearly there! Scott Donnelly wheels away after scoring at Exeter
Aldershot FC and Aldershot Town heroes return
CHAMPIONS! Football League, here we come!
GET IN! Scott Donnelly scores Aldershot Town's first goal in the Football League
Setanta Shield winners 2008
Scott Davies nets in 07-08
There is to be late drama at Torquay in March 08
Exeter City dressing room after promotion confirmed
Aldershot bus tour championship celebrations
More bus tour celebrations
More celebrations as Shots are in the Football League
Exeter celebrations
John Grant and Lewis Chalmers at Exeter
Scott Donnelly scores first Football League goal for Aldershot Town
Danny Hylton levels matters at home to Bury
Anthony Charles nets at Barnet
Kirk Hudson v Dagenham and Redbridge
The 2007/08 programme printers changed for the first time in the clubs history as Excel Print Ltd replaced the Adline Group in November after 15 years. Indeed the design of the programme changed too. It was briefly edited by Graham Brookland in an interim period before Guy Butchers took responsibility for the remainder of the season. The 44 page full colour programme cost £2.50. It included a regular slot from goalkeeper Nikki Bull.Craig Matthews took on the Red and Blue role and the team sheet was actually included on the inside left slot of the back cover.
The 2008/09 programme saw a change of printers with Indigo Press taking over. The 56 page edition saw new articles from Richard Petty from the Supporters Club and Nicky Banger's Corporate World. Youth and reserves were covered by Martin Gooday and there was an extensive coverage of all commercial and fund raising activity. There was also a page devoted to Army football too for the £3 publication.
Physio Sue Bowen with the fans at Exeter City on championship night in April 2008
Nikki Bull with a sponsored car
Ben Harding and Lewis Chalmers fly the flag after gaining England C honours
Dressing room joy at Exeter